Thursday, November 3, 2011

Passing the time of day

Lemuel was glad it was fall.  The temperature during the day was comfortable, and it was even bearable at night for sleeping all by oneself.  Last winter had been horrible since the hens never did let him into the coop.  To sleep without other turkey bodies close by to keep him warm and a roof over his head to keep off the snow or rain had been pretty horrible.  Bart hadn’t figured out that Lemuel slept out in the elements until the middle of December, and then it took him a week or so to make him another coop.  Lemuel thanked the Great Celestial Turkey every day that it was done before the blizzard that had hit just after Christmas.  He might have been chilly, but at least he wasn’t buried in snow over his head.  Talk about frozen turkey! 
Summer had been fine for sleeping.  He just picked an unoccupied section of roost and hopped up there, fluffed out his feathers to maximize airflow and fell right asleep.  The days were hard, though.  There was very little shade in the turkey run.  Wisely, Bart had built the turkey run in an area with no trees.  Wise for him, but hot for the turkeys.  The area under any tree in a turkey roost becomes knee deep in, well, turkey droppings.  Quite a mess.  The farmer who’d raised Lemuel had explained all this to him.  The hens claimed any shade cast by the coop and chased him away if he tried to ease himself into that blessed shade.   So Lemuel learned patience.  If he waited long enough, the sun went down and he’d cool off. 
Another benefit to fall was that Kid visited more often.  He loved a good chat with Kid.  She’d fill him in on what was going on with Buddy, Emma, Ziggy and Bella.  He’d come to love them last year, well, all but Buddy.  Buddy always had that look in his eye as though he were calculating how much meat Lemuel would provide.  Kid tended to visit in the late morning, when Bart was taking his walk.  Bart didn’t know they were friends, and had chased Kid off the property, fearing that she would try to make off with a turkey, or at least a chicken. 
This morning Kid came over as soon as Bart passed the front of the house on his way out.  He usually didn’t pass the house on the return trip for a good while, so Kid was pretty sure they could have a good long talk.  He met Lemuel at the back corner of the turkey run, as they’d discovered that the hens didn’t take kindly to a cat in the vicinity, even if there was a fence between them.  They’d squawk and screech so much that neither Lemuel nor Kid could hear what the other was saying. 
“So, what’s the news from over your way, Kid?”  Lemuel scratched a bit to clear away any rocks or twigs that might be uncomfortable to sit on. 
“Well, let’s see.  Val had a really bad cold for a couple days.  On Monday she sat down on the couch to watch the stock market on television, fell asleep before the market even opened and didn’t wake up until it was about to close for the day.  She’s feeling better now, though.” Kid considered herself somewhat of an expert on the market, as she’d spent years watching CNN with Val and listening as she talked back to the television about how happy (or upset) she was about how some stock or other was doing.  She’d never done any of her own trading though.  Emma was the only one of the cats who’d actually traded on the stock market, although it had been somewhat of an accident.  One day Val had set up a trade on her computer, and was watching the market ticker for exactly the right moment to sell her shares, and Emma had jumped on the keyboard, hitting the key that executed the trade.  Val hadn’t made quite as much money on that trade as she’d hoped, but at least she hadn’t lost any.  Kid was a bit jealous; as she knew that she’d have waited until exactly the right moment, and after that Val had made sure the door was closed to the office when she was trading. 
Lemuel nodded, trying to look as though he’d understand word one of what Kid had just said.  In his mind, a stock market was a place that farmers sold their animals.  They didn’t share their animals, they owned them and either bought them, sold them or kept them.  They might trade them from time to time, particularly if one farmer had a blood line that he wanted and another farmer with that blood line had an animal he was willing to part with for one the other farmer owned, but that wasn’t something that was done on a computer.  Stock markets had actual animals – smelly, noisy animals, not pictures on a computer screen.  You couldn’t look in the mouth of an animal on a computer screen to see if its gums were healthy.  Lemuel knew about that kind of stock market – Bart had purchased him at one of those. 
“And Bella’s diet is doing really well.  She can run around the yard now and not get exhausted before she gets from the deck to the pool.  She grumbles about being hungry now and again, but she likes being able to run with Val and Ziggy, so she keeps it to a minimum.”  Kid was very proud of Bella, since she had an eating disorder.  Dieting with an eating disorder was really, really difficult.  She’d gone from being an emaciated rescue Chihuahua who’d practically been starved to a very round sausage shaped Chihuahua, and now was just a rather plump one. 
“Oh, I understand completely, Kid.  Last year when I thought Bart might want to serve me for Thanksgiving dinner and I practically stopped eating it was so difficult.  The food was right there in front of me, and I had to just keep saying to myself, ‘no, if you eat that you’ll end up as a turkey dinner’.  It was almost easier living under your deck with practically no food at all.  At least then I didn’t have to look at it and try to use my willpower to say no to food.” 
Kid considered what other news there was.  “Hmmm, Emma is staying inside more now that it’s getting colder and Buddy is sleeping on Val’s bed pretty much every night.  That’s not really newsworthy, though.  Lizzy came by a couple days ago.  Did I tell you that Lizzy moved out?  The basement is practically empty now.  She wanted to take Bella and Ziggy up with her for a few days to visit her new place, but Val said no, since it’s in a city and Ziggy loves everyone so much he’d probably run to say hi to another dog and get squished by a car.  Val did take them up for an overnight visit herself.  It was really weird with no dogs in the house.  Too quiet, which is odd when I think that it’s only been a couple years since Val had dogs at all.  It should have been just perfect – no snoring Bella, no zany Ziggy running up and down the hall, but I didn’t like it.  Maybe I just missed Val.  Heck, I don’t know.  So what’s up with you?”
Lemuel shook his head.  “Same old, same old.  The jennies and jakes make fun of me, the hens ignore me unless I get in their way and Bart feeds us twice a day.  Nothing ever happens here.  No one comes to see us, well at least humans, except Bart and sometimes his wife.  She points out one of the really fat hens every now and again and tells him that she looks really good.  Personally I think some of the hens are just getting a little too overweight.  I keep expecting Sheila to fall over when she’s roosting.”  He chuckled just thinking about it. 
“Psst – Kid!  Bart is on his way back.  You might want to skedaddle.”  That was Buddy, calling from the other side of the fence. 
“Great to talk to you, Lemuel.  Gotta go now.  One of these days I’m afraid Bart’s gonna come out her with a shotgun.  Ta ta for now.”  Kid raced for the hedgerow.
Lemuel sighed.  Another long day ahead of him.  Perhaps it was time for a nap.  

Photo courtesy of (with a little help from CNN)

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